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Cassadee Pope Shines at Country Summer

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The Country Summer festival in Santa Rosa, Calif., got off to a big-time start on Saturday with Cassadee Pope’s high-voltage set.

The Season 3 winner of NBC’s The Voice has been taking the country world by storm with a platinum debut record and a billing at the 2015 edition of Stagecoach, and she continued that momentum at the Sonoma Country Fairgrounds.

From the start of her 1:30 p.m. slot, Pope had the enthusiastic audience at rapt attention, both with her unbelievable singing ability and her stage presence.

Diving into smash solo album Frame by Frame, Pope opened with “I Wish I Could Break Your Heart” and “Champagne,” which had Pope strutting up and down the catwalk that reached out into the crowd as she showcased her incredible range.

She also added a little bit of a snarl on the track “Proved You Wrong,” which she originally wrote when she was fronting her Florida pop-punk band Hey Monday several years ago. The track sounds like a breakup lament, with heavy relationship imagery, but it is actually about the obstacles she’s faced in the music industry.

Pope also featured “This Car,” “Easier to Lie” and “Everybody Sings” from Frame by Frame, which was produced by Dann Huff, another musician who made the jump from rock to country, having worked with artists ranging from Megadeth to Faith Hill.

In addition, she pulled out two bonus tracks that appeared on Frame by Frame’s deluxe edition – the chunky riff-driven “Cinematic” and “Edge of a Thunderstorm.”

To pay homage to a few classic rockers, the West Palm Beach, Fla., native turned in a killer cover of the Eagles’ “Hotel California” and a joyous version of Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers’ “I Won’t Back Down.”

As uptempo as Pope’s catolog is, she also shined in a poignant moment during the song “11,” which she explained was the most personal she’s ever written. Dealing with her parents’ divorce at the age of 11, one could tell that Pope gets emotional every time she sings it.

At several points during her performance, Pope was generous with those who sat up front and held up things in the hopes of getting an autograph. She also was successful in getting people to stand and dance along to her pop- and rock- influenced country tunes.

But Pope’s voice was a real stunner, showing range and passion no matter the pace of the songs.

Judging by the enthusiasm of the crowd, the country world is welcoming Pope with open arms.

Guitarist Jim McGorman on his Gretsch White Falcon alongside Cassadee Pope.

Jim McGorman on his Gretsch White Falcon.

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Posted In: Artists Blogs

Gary Allan Pulls Out Classics, New Single at Country Summer

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With a new single out called “Hangover Tonight” burning up the airwaves, it was exciting to see Gary Allan take the main stage at the Country Summer music festival in Santa Rosa, Calif., on Friday evening.

And while he did play that new Motown-influenced gem, Allan also delivered a slew of hits, entrancing a fiery crowd that stood singing along every word before him.

Backed by an ace band that included Ryan Warner and stalwart sidemen Jaime Hanna, who was conspicuously wearing his trademark kilt, Allan’s “It Ain’t the Whiskey” and “It Would Be You,” which is the title track off his hit 1998 album, continued the dive into his back catalog.

Donning a Gretsch Falcon from the Custom Shop, Allan also pulled out “Right Where I Need to Be” from the 1999 offering, Smoke Rings in the Dark.

And while all the classics caused a frenzy in the capacity crowd, “Hangover Tonight” also was a highlight, as Allan’s unmistakable voice paired well with the funky jam.

“Hell with being sober, I want to hang over tonight,” Allan sang, causing many watching to swoon.

For a guy who has a ton of chart-busting hits already under his belt, it’s exciting to wonder what Allan next has in store for his fans.

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Posted In: Artists Blogs

Jake Owen Charms at Country Summer

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Even though thousands of people descended on the Sonoma County Fairgrounds Friday night to see headliner Jake Owen at the Country Summer festival, the country superstar still managed to pull off a show that felt intimate and personal.

Donning a short-sleeved t-shirt amid the increasingly chilly weather in Santa Rosa, Calif., a barefoot Owens bounced up and down the ramp that jutted out into the crowd throughout the evening, taking time to connect with as many fans as he could.

Like the headphones-wearing baby whose hand he shook when her enthusiastic parent held her up during the early song “!972.” Or the person holding up a sign farther back that Owen pointed out during “Alone With You.” Or mugging for the phone at the end of a long selfie-stick.

And those were hardly the only memories Owen created for the audience, as he seemed to build and build off the energy projected up at him.

“Y’all are getting wild as hell, aren’t ya?” he joked before picking up a Gretsch for “Alone With You,” which comes off his smash 2011 album, Barefoot Blue Jean Night.

Owen worked some new music, as well, most notably in the single “Real Life” and the never-before-played “LAX” – which could be interpreted as “LA-Ex,” as he sang about a love lost when she moved to Los Angeles to pursue an acting career.

“Dead 70-degrees and sunny, please hold on to my California honey,” he sang during the sweet solo acoustic number, drawing both appreciative sighs and knowing chuckles from the NorCal crowd.

Owen also shows his versatility by covering snippets of classic party songs. During his own “Pass the Beer,” he teased Sublime’s “All I Got,” a band he has cited as an influence on his upcoming album, and Shaggy’s “Angel,” not to mention a check of Snoop Dogg’s “Gin and Juice.”

“Seems like y’all know a lot of music, from country to Snoop!” he exclaimed.

Later, he strode out wearing an acoustic guitar and talked about his love of country stalwarts like Gary Allan, who rocked the Country Summer main stage before Owen, Alan Jackson and Brooks and Dunn.

As he professed his love for those legendary artists, Owen then played a verse or two of Jackson’s “Chattahoochee” and Brooks and Dunn’s “Boot Scootin’ Boogie,” much to the delight of his thousands of newfound karaoke partners.

By the end of the show, Owen came out for a raucous encore of “Barefoot Blue Jean Night,” and as he called for “lighters in the dark in the middle of a rock show,” everyone seemed to oblige, whether by phone light or flame.

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Posted In: Artists Blogs

Peghead Nation Demos the Camp Uke

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The Gretsch Roots Collection continues to reap positive press with the latest coming in the way of a review for the Gretsch G9101 Camp Uke by Peghead Nation.

“The Camp Uke is incredibly lightweight, and with its small size, you could indeed stuff it into a typical daypack,” notes reviewer Teja Gerken. “The instrument is set up to play with great ease, and a balanced tone offers lovely soprano ukulele sounds on every part of the fingerboard.”

Click here to watch a video that gives a complete rundown of its specs, along with a short playing demo by instructor Adrianne Serna.

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Posted In: Product Updates & Reviews

Watch Israel Nash Perform on KEXP

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Israel Nash KEXP
Singer/songwriter Israel Nash and his amazing band recently recorded a few tracks inside the Seattle studios of KEXP, bringing an Americana vibe to the station.

Nash performed songs from 2014′s Israel Nash’s Rain Plains, a selection that included “Woman At The Well,” “Mansions,” “Rain Plans” and “Rexanimarium.”

Watch the brief but moving set below.

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Posted In: Artists Blogs, Home Page

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